By Martha Handler and Jennifer Pappas
M – I love live concerts but the bigger city venues often leave me wishing I’d stayed home, put my feet up and listened to the artist’s albums on my stereo – oops, I mean downloaded and played them on my iPad. The crowds and decibel levels (not to mention the icky and overcrowded bathrooms) are too much to bear at my advanced age. That’s why I love the sparkling gem we have right in our backyard – the Ridgefield Playhouse. The quality acts it gets are astounding. I’ve recently seen the smokin’ hot Joan Jett, where I danced along with an audience filled with sizzling lesbians (who knew we had so many in our area?), and on Valentine’s Day, I sang along while the sexy (I swear he still is) Michael Bolton belted out his most famous songs and even a few opera arias, which left his mother, who was seated next to me, and myself in tears. And the comedy shows are top notch – Susie Essman (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) recently had me laughing out loud for days afterwards as I recalled her witticisms. I think at this stage of my life I just want to “let it all hang out” and I feel I can do just that at the playhouse. At this age – what have I got to lose?
J – We are lucky indeed to have that wonderful place in our own backyard. People travel for hours to come out and see some of the playhouse’s featured acts. And although I love to be entertained (and you know I do), I think staffers there should be applauded for their charitable efforts. They just recently rallied a plethora of artists to raise money for the families that suffered in the horrific Newtown tragedy. One of the bands that performed there that night was Grammy-nominated Chris Berardo & The DesBerardos, who took time out of their busy touring schedule to stop by and “bring the house down” with their whiskey-laced jams and soulful vocals. They have crisscrossed the country several times over, rocking and rolling along in their super-swanky tour bus. Talk about a life of adventure on the road. They are off and running once more, but if you’re lucky, you can catch them in New York again sometime soon. Thanks, guys. And thanks to (executive director) Allison Stockel, for keeping the playhouse sparkling, like the true jewel that it is.
M – And we even got a backstage pass to hang with Chris and the boys – just one of the many perks of being part of WAG’s Class and Sass team (lol). When I’m willing to venture a bit further out for music, I love going to Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg. It gets great acts, the crowd usually isn’t too young and you get to bowl and dance simultaneously (which does wonders for my score). If you can swing it, it’s really fun to stay across the street at the Wythe Hotel. A former textile factory, it’s now a super-hip 72-room hotel with original brick walls and breathtakingly gorgeous views of Manhattan across the East River. If you can’t stay, at least have a drink at the bar, which has a large outdoor deck or better yet eat at Reynards, located in the lobby, which is famous for its New York-raised lamb, beef and chicken, which the chef manages to cook to perfection in Reynards’ wood-burning oven. There are even bikes for borrowing.
J – Bikes for borrowing: That reminds me of the time my whole family went to Nantucket for a week last summer. It was so beautiful. We went fishing and swimming and yes, biking. I had this grand idea to rent bikes (they have the cutest little baskets) to go from one side of the island to the other. I wanted to find the beach where the movie “Jaws” had been filmed, which we did, three hours later. It took a lot longer to get there than I had anticipated. In my defense, those maps they hand out are very deceiving and my husband, who isn’t much with directions, directed us right into the swamps. We did see some amazing snapping turtles in that bog we dead-ended into. It was such a hot day and we had the kids with us, (who hadn’t wanted to go anyway and were firing the stink-eye at me nonstop) and my mom (who likes to think she can still climb Machu Picchu, but in reality can’t). It was all right going over, barely, but we were soaking wet, full of sand and so exhausted by the time we had to turn around and come back that we had to hitch our bikes up to the “cross island” bus and ride back. That was embarrassing. I was really worried ’bout my mom though. She had started to turn, “a whiter shade of pale.”
M – As much as I love Mayor Bloomberg and all he’s done to improve the city, I think he’s really lost his mind with his plan to put 10,000 city bikes in 600 share stations around the city. Don’t get me wrong, I love bicycles and would applaud almost any plan to help alleviate the growing congestion. But in a city with very few bike lanes, taxis that rarely use turn signals (and treat bike lanes as additional road lanes), roads riddled with potholes, tourists galore and very narrow streets (where an unexpected car door opening can prove fatal to a cyclist), I don’t see the merit. And many of the share stations are being erected in front of hotels, which means tourists, many of whom have no idea of where they’re going, will be trying to navigate the congested streets while presumably reading maps (i.e., their smart phones). I’m not usually a negative person, but this seems as crazy as his (initial) decision to go forward with the New York City Marathon only days after Hurricane Sandy hit.
J – I totally agree. I have personally taken out two cyclists with my car door – the poor things. It’s a horrifying sight to see them lying there, sprawled out on the pavement. And I am always stepping into those darn bike lanes. I can just imagine how many tourists will be squashed, because they are “tourists” and are lost and looking up and out, instead of down. It’s a recipe for disaster.
• NYC Walking Tours. A great way to find out fascinating facts about the city – its history, its neighborhoods, its ghosts, its unsolved murders and its food. Some of my favorites are xperiencedays.com, nycgangstertours.com and bigonion.com. (M)
• (J) The Ridgefield Playhouse. The most fabulous place to see movies, experience live music and host a party. ridgefieldplayhouse.org
• The odds of you being there when Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen makes a surprise appearance at a small and intimate club. (M)
• Angry NYC cyclists. (Even if you aren’t usually someone who experiences “road rage,” Manhattan will allow you to do so). They are very territorial about their “bike lanes” and will literally mow you down, without a second thought, because you have invaded their space. They might, however, ding their bell at you, after they have left you in a heap. (J)
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